2012 News Releases

November 16, 2012


Santa and his Suwanee elves will usher in the holiday season with music, hot chocolate, and wish lists on Friday, November 30. Suwanee's annual Caboose Lighting and Holiday Festival will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Main Street in historic Old Town.
To welcome Santa and the holiday season, choruses from Level Creek, Riverside, Roberts, and Suwanee elementary schools will perform. Santa will arrive in Suwanee, as he does every year, aboard his tractor-pulled sleigh. Sitting on his special chair at the Burnette-Rogers Pavilion, Santa will patiently greet and listen to the wishes of area children while parents snap their own, free photos. Parents, be sure to bring your cameras!

Hot chocolate, cookies, and s'mores will be served, and craft activities will be available. This event is free and open to the public.

November 15, 2012


Work is underway in the City of Suwanee on a streetscaping project around the I-85 interstate interchange and along Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road from the new police substation to Sawmill Road. The project is designed to convey to travelers, visitors, and passersby a positive image of the Suwanee Gateway area – and the larger community.

Small plazas are being constructed and abundant landscaping is being installed, says Planning and Inspections Director Josh Campbell, in order to indicate to travelers that "this is a nice place to stop, it's not just another interchange. They'll see that it's an area where investment is occurring."

Eleven plazas, which will include benches and trash cans as well as landscaping, and two smaller seating areas are being created on each side of the interstate ramps and around the Sawmill/Lawrenceville-Suwanee intersection. In addition, the I-85 ramps will be re-landscaped. In all, the project includes 161 elm, maple, crepe myrtle, and magnolia trees; 6,146 holly, juniper, and rose bushes; 4,255 plugs of liriope; and more than an acre of sod.

The Brickman Group, out of Lawrenceville, has been contracted to do the work at a cost of about $285,000. Funding is provided through the City's general fund, the 2005 SPLOST, and a $50,000 grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The project, expected to be completed around the first of the year, also will include some restriping of crosswalks and repair of broken sidewalks in the area. Lane closures are not anticipated, nor is the completed project expected to have an impact on traffic flow.

November 13, 2012


More shade is coming to City of Suwanee parks. The City is currently installing shade structures at the Sims Lake Park playground and plans to install additional shade sails around the Big Splash fountain area at Town Center Park early next year.

The playground at Sims Lake Park, located at 4600 Suwanee Dam Road, has been closed so that the shade structures, which include metal poles and a polytex fabric in sail shapes, may be installed. (Only the playground has been closed; the rest of Sims Lake Park remains open.) The project will take about two weeks, with the specific completion date depending on weather conditions. In the meantime, children looking for a fun place to play can check out PlayTown Suwanee, the community-built super playground on Main Street.

The shade fabric at Sims Lake Park is forest green. These shade structures were purchased from Ocala, Florida-based Shade Systems, Inc., and are being installed by 5 Guys Contracting of Lawrenceville. The City has budgeted about $44,500 for shade at Sims Lake Park.

Deas Construction of Suwanee will provide the shade structures for Town Center Park at an anticipated cost of about $55,500. The shade fabric, in aqua marine blue, will be installed over some of the benches surrounding the interactive fountain.

"Our citizens have expressed a great deal of enthusiasm for additional shade, particularly at the Sims Lake Park playground and Big Splash fountain," notes Public Works Director James Miller. "We believe that these additions will make our award-winning parks even better."

November 12, 2012


The City of Suwanee is accepting submissions in its annual Snap Suwanee photo contest. The contest celebrates the Suwanee community and the quick-shutter fingers of those who manage to capture interesting, unique, or reflective moments.

Submissions for the 2013 Snap Suwanee exhibit are due by December 31. Photographers may submit up to five high-resolution photos each; photos must have been taken in Suwanee and be at least 300 dpi in order to be printed and exhibited. Submissions without the application form or of photos that are low resolution may not be considered. Additional guidelines and an application are available at www.suwanee.com.

Winning entries will be exhibited at City Hall through most of next year.

Suwanee resident Janet George has been a winner in each of the previous three years. "It's fun to enter the contest for several reasons," she says. "One is you don't have to be someone who's taken even one photography class. That'd be me! You don't even have to own an expensive camera. Me again! It's truly open to anyone. Also, Suwanee has a number of pretty places – or maybe I should say photogenic places. That makes taking a nice photo a lot easier."

The 13 photos selected as winners of the 2012 Snap Suwanee competition will remain on exhibit at City Hall until March. Last year, 129 entries were received from 43 photographers.

October 30, 2012


In order to assess residents' satisfaction with community amenities and municipal services, the City of Suwanee is once again participating in the National Citizen Survey. A representative sample of 1,200 households will receive an invitation to participate in the survey.

"We hope that residents will share about 20 minutes and their opinions with us," says Financial Services Director Amie Sakmar, "so that we can determine where we're doing a good job and where we need to improve."

The households that receive the questionnaire are randomly selected and mailed the survey by the National Research Center and International City/County Management Association, who administer the survey on behalf of local jurisdictions across more than 40 states.

Suwanee questionnaires must be completed and returned to the National Research Center by December 7. The surveys should be completed by hand; no online version is available.

The National Citizen Survey asks for feedback in eight categories related to community characteristics and local government services: community quality, environmental sustainability, community inclusiveness, community design, recreation and wellness, civic engagement, public safety, and public trust.

"The City participates in the survey every two years, and this will be our third National Citizen Survey," Sakmar says. "So, we'll be able to compare this year's data with the previous two survey results and begin to see trends."

Suwanee's 2012 survey results will be available early next year. These results assist in community planning, resource allocation, program improvement, goal-setting, and policy-making. Suwanee also benchmarks its results with more than 500 other communities who have administered the survey as well as with a subset of jurisdictions that have a similar population.

Based on 2010 survey results, the City of Suwanee received two Voice of the People awards from the International City/County Management Association in 2011. These awards are presented to jurisdictions with the highest-rated services according to survey results. Suwanee won for its parks and overall service quality.

October 25, 2012


Showing next in Suwanee's Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is Drivers Wanted, a gritty look at the international and tireless cast of characters who inhabit New York City's most famous taxi garage and navigate the city-that-never-sleeps' 6,174 miles of streets. The film will be shown at 7 p.m. Monday, November 5, at Movie Tavern, 2855 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

The $6 movie ticket also provides an opportunity for attendees to meet and ask questions of director Joshua Z. Weinstein. In addition, film-goers will see Weinstein's short film I Beat Mike Tyson, which explores boxer Kevin McBride's struggles with fatherhood and his failing boxing career.

The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers will continue in Suwanee through April. The film tour is funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

October 22, 2012


Zombies from the Aurora Theatre's Terror on the Trail are coming to Suwanee for the final Toast @ Town Center event of 2012. The theme for the October 25 event is "Night of the Living Dead."

Area residents are invited to dress up to the theme and come to Town Center from 6-10 p.m. to enjoy good meals…good deals…and good times.

In addition, local musician Jeff Wright will perform in front of Hairllucinations.

Toast @ Town Center is Suwanee's monthly street festival event held the fourth Thursday of the month. The event features merchant specials, entertainment, and themed fun. Participants are encouraged to come eat, shop, and enjoy a beverage, including wine and beer, purchased from one of Town Center's licensed businesses. During Toast @ Town Center, visitors can stroll throughout Town Center with their beverages.

October 15, 2012


Pirates and princesses. Zombies and superheroes. Rock stars and superstars. They're all expected to make an appearance at the City of Suwanee's annual Trek or Treat event from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, October 27, at Suwanee Creek Park, 1170 Buford Highway.

Suwanee's mascot, Parker the Dog, will be at the event and encourages those coming to dress in their Halloween costume. Activities will include a costume parade, face painting, games, crafts, and pumpkin hunt. A DJ will be on hand to instigate dancing, games, and fun. Hot dogs will be served while supplies last.

Trek or Treat is a free event designed particularly for children 10 and younger. For a more "thrilling" Halloween experience, older children and adults might consider the Aurora Theatre's Terror on the Trail, taking place at Sims Lake Park on Friday and Saturday evenings through the end of October. Tickets and information are available at www.terroronthetrail.com.

October 5, 2012


Suwanee's normally idyllic Sims Lake Park will be transformed into a scary backdrop for zombies and tortured tales of terror over the last three weekends of October. In cooperation with the City of Suwanee, the Aurora Theatre will present Terror on the Trail, a scary stroll through Sims Lake Park led by a legion of teenage zombies, who have charged a series of storytellers with frightening guests for their pleasure and sustenance.

Tours, which last approximately 75 minutes, will be offered Friday and Saturday, October 12 and 13, 19 and 20, and 26 and 27. Tours begin at 7:30 p.m. with the last tour starting at 9:30.

Tickets are $15 in advance and available at www.terroronthetrail.com or by calling the Aurora Theatre Box Office at 678-226-6222. Tickets also may be purchased at Sims Lake Park on tour dates. Sims Lake Park is located at 4600 Suwanee Dam Road.

On a scariness scale, the Aurora Theatre says that Terror on the Trail is somewhere between classic storytelling and a haunted house experience. While there are some special effects, nothing will jump out to startle visitors. The tour is not recommended for children under the age of 10, and it is strongly suggested that an adult accompany children 12 and younger.

Guests are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather. The tour is wheelchair accessible, but strollers are not permitted. No flashlights please; zombies don't like light.

October 4, 2012


The next film to be served up by the City of Suwanee in the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt. This Emmy-nominated film by Sally Rowe explores the career ups and downs of an edgy New York City chef ahead of his time.

The film will be shown at 7 p.m. Monday, October 15, at Movie Tavern, 2855 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road. Individual tickets are $6 and available from Movie Tavern; series package tickets are still available and include a complimentary glass of wine at each film. Ticket prices include light refreshments and a question-and-answer reception with the director/producer, who will Skype in for the exchange.

The film offers an intimate look inside the world of an immensely talented and driven young chef known for his unforgettable and hyper modern dishes such as eel, violets, and chocolate; espuma of calf brains and foie gras, and beer and truffle soup. A Matter of Taste follows Paul Liebrandt over a decade, revealing his creative process and the extreme hard work, long hours, and dedication necessary to be a culinary artist and achieve success in the cutthroat world of haute cuisine in New York City.

Born in New Zealand, Sally Rowe marks her directorial debut with A Matter of Taste, which has been nominated for a 2012 Emmy Award for Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming.

This is the second film to be shown in Suwanee through the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers; through April, four additional films will be shown. The film tour is funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

October 3, 2012


Each year, the City of Suwanee and a variety of community organizations host approximately 40 events at Town Center and other parks. While the event season in Suwanee is a long one, the window for applying to host an event is open only for a relatively short period of time – and that window is now open.

Event applications for 2013 are available at www.suwanee.com. The deadline to submit applications is December 7.

"We receive requests throughout the year from folks who want to hold an event in Suwanee," says the City's Events Manager Amy Doherty. "However, we accept applications for the next year only from October to December, so now's your time. Once the City's event calendar for the year is established, we do not add additional events."

Suwanee's events are a key component of building a sense of community and have helped establish Town Center Park as a regional venue. Over the past two years, bands that have performed free concerts in Suwanee have included Little River Band, Sister Hazel, Better Than Ezra, The Lovin' Spoonful, Vertical Horizon, and The Smithereens.

Submission of an application does not necessarily constitute approval. Applications are reviewed, and applicants will be notified regarding the status of their application by the end of January.

For additional information, contact Amy Doherty at adoherty@suwanee.com or 770-945-8996.

October 2, 2012


The Harvest Farm Community Garden Managing Board is hosting its 3rd annual scarecrow competition. Gardeners, residents, schools, and clubs are invited to participate. Prizes will be awarded in the following categories: scariest, funniest, most creative, best scarecrow made by a child, and best scarecrow created from recycled materials.

Scarecrows may be placed at the garden beginning October 1. Place the scarecrows in your plot, or inside the perimeter of the fence if you don't have a plot. Judging will take place October 31, and winners will be contacted November 1. Please attach the following information to your scarecrow: your name, email address, and phone number; we suggest providing this information on a piece of paper that is inserted into a baggie to protect it from the elements. Scarecrows will remain on display in the garden until November 30 when they may be picked up; otherwise, they will be disposed of.

For more information, contact Kim Thompson at kimdthompson@bellsouth.net or 678-644-5793.

September 27, 2012


The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) has recognized the City of Suwanee's 2011 Popular Annual Financial Report. Evaluated on its creativity, presentation, understandability, and reader appeal, the annual report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2011 has met GFOA requirements to be recognized with a Popular Annual Financial Report Award.

In order to receive the award, local government organizations must receive a weighted average score of 75 percent or more on three of the four highest individual reviews. Suwanee's report scored an average of 89 percent.

September 24, 2012


The City of Suwanee is set to roll out a new emergency notification service to its residents. The City has contracted with Emergency Communications Network to provide its CodeRed emergency and general notification services via phone calls, email, and/or text.

Suwanee residents may sign up for the service via the CodeRed link located in the bottom right box of the www.suwanee.com homepage. The service will make a test/informational call on Monday, October 1, to Suwanee phone numbers collected through online sign-ups and using existing public phone databases; most of these calls, informing residents about the service, are anticipated to go to landlines.

"This is a service that our citizens have requested," says City Manager Marty Allen, "and we're pleased to be able to provide it in a manner that we believe is effective and cost efficient. Our Council felt that this was a more elegant, versatile, and effective answer than tornado sirens to residents' requests in particular for severe weather notification. And, in addition to providing weather-related notifications, the system we've adopted can be used for other important emergency and non-emergency communication purposes."

Notifications that may be made through the system fall into three categories:

  • emergency weather
  • emergency situations (such as a gas leak or terrorism threat)
  • general notification about events and other non-emergency City information.

Citizens will be required to opt in for general and weather notifications and to opt out of emergency notifications.

As residents sign up online, they will indicate preferences for how they wish to be contacted (e.g., cell phone call, text, email) and what kinds of information – weather and/or non-emergency notifications, such as information about events – they wish to receive. Residents will also be given the option of opting out of receiving emergency calls by completing a "do not call" form.

The City will issue emergency notifications very sparingly, notes Allen, and only in instances when the situation requires awareness or action in order to ensure the safety and well-being of residents. The City will not issue the weather notifications; those will be generated through the National Weather Service for alerts or warnings only – not watch situations – and will be geocoded so that only subscribers in impacted areas are notified.

Citizens may enter multiple phone numbers for the same address, however, at this time only one address may be associated with each phone number.

September 18, 2012


Once again, the City of Suwanee will participate in the Drug Enforcement Agency's National Take-Back Initiative by accepting prescription medications for safe and appropriate disposal.  The medications will be accepted from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, September 29, at the Suwanee Police Station, 373 Buford Highway.

The program is designed to address prescription abuse, which the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse, describes as the country's "biggest and growing drug problem." Every day, according to the organization Parents: The Anti-Drug, 2,500 youth, ages 12-17, abuse pain relievers for the first time.

The Take Back campaign allows residents to dispose of expired, unused, and unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications in a safe, legal, and environmentally sound manner. Flushing prescriptions and other medications down the toilet or throwing them away in the trash pose potential safety and health hazards.

Medications may be dropped at the Suwanee Police Department and other locations anonymously. Intravenous solutions, injected medications, other liquid prescriptions, and needles will NOT be accepted. Illicit substances, such as marijuana and methamphetamine, also are not part of this initiative.

Nationwide, more than 1.5 million pounds of medication have been removed from circulation through the Take-Back initiatives. Last fall, the Suwanee Police Department collected about 60 pounds of medications for disposal.

For more information about Suwanee's participation in this program, contact Sgt. Bryan Hickey at bhickey@suwanee.com or 770-904-7609.

September 17, 2012


Want access to the very freshest herbs and produce? Here's your opportunity to grow your own: The City of Suwanee will accept applications for plots next year at its Harvest Farm Community Garden on Wednesday, October 3. Applications will be accepted from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at White Street Park, where the community garden is located.

The garden's 76 plots are available first to City of Suwanee residents and then to other area residents. The annual fee for a plot ranges from $50-$100, depending upon the size of the plot requested; City residents receive a 25 percent discount.

Applications are available at www.suwanee.com.

"When my family and I were looking at Suwanee last year as a possible place to live," says Julie Chahboune, "the Harvest Farm Community Garden was a huge selling point. My kids love coming to the garden…and we've all enjoyed the experience of meeting the other plot holders. Gardeners are some of the nicest, most generous people I've ever met. They not only share information and anecdotes, but their extra produce, too."

September 14, 2012


Believing that the best weapon against crime is an informed citizen, the Suwanee Police Department is once again offering its popular Citizens Police Academy. Over the past eight years, more than 300 individuals have participated in this hands-on, eight-week program.

Classes for this fall session will be offered at 6:30 Tuesday evenings beginning October 2 at the Suwanee Police Department's new training facility/substation at 2966 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road in the Gateway area. (Please note that while most classes will be on Tuesday evenings through November 20, class during the second week will be held on Monday evening, October 8.)

Those wishing to participate must provide notarized applications by 5 p.m. Friday, September 21. Applications are available at www.suwanee.com.

The program, open to Suwanee residents and those who work in Suwanee, offers a better understanding of the day-to-day functions, risks, and experiences of Suwanee police officers. Topics addressed include crime scene processing, traffic stops, building searches, crime prevention, and narcotics identification.

September 11, 2012


The first of six movies – and filmmakers – coming to Suwanee through the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers will be shown – and met – on Monday, September 17. Age of Champions, an award-winning documentary about an ageless topic, the National Senior Olympics, will be screened at 7 p.m. at Movie Tavern, 2855 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.

A six-film circuit tour package, which includes a complimentary glass of wine at each viewing, as well as individual movie tickets may be purchased at Movie Tavern, 678-730-6900.  Package tickets are $30; individual movie tickets are $6 each. Tickets include a question-and-answer reception with filmmakers following the screening.

Age of Champions follows five competitors who sprint, leap, and swim for gold at the National Senior Olympics. Movie-goers will meet a 100-year-old tennis champion, an 86-year-old pole vaulter, and a group of rough-and-tumble basketball grandmothers as they triumph over the limitations of age. Filmmaker Christopher Rufo will be in Suwanee to discuss his inspirational film.

Five additional films will be screened at Movie Tavern through April as part of South Arts' Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers. Suwanee is one of about 20 communities in eight states participating in this year's tour. Southern Circuit screenings are funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

August 29, 2012


Council has set the City of Suwanee's millage rate for 2012 at 4.93 mills, a reduction of 0.72 mills from last year. This marks the third consecutive year that Suwanee has reduced its millage rate.

This year's reduced rate was made possible, in part, by terms of the service delivery agreement reached earlier this year between Gwinnett County and its cities. Over the next six years, Suwanee anticipates receiving about $660,000 annually from the county through this agreement.

The City's new millage rate means that the owner of a $216,200 home, which represents Suwanee's median value, would pay $426 in City taxes, that's $63 – or about 13 percent – less than last year.

The City of Suwanee will issue property tax notices in October with payment due by December 20.

August 28, 2012


In its 29th celebration, the Suwanee Day festival will incorporate many changes, including an earlier start time. This year, Suwanee Day will start one hour earlier, providing an extra 60 minutes of fun, shopping, and community camaraderie. Suwanee's annual celebration of community will commence at 9 a.m. on Saturday, September 15, at Town Center Park.

The festival kicks off with a parade that will march up Buford Highway by Town Center Park and then down Main Street. This year's parade theme is "Catch a Dream," and cash prizes are awarded to parade participants for best reflection of theme, most entertaining, most creative, and best of show. Applications to participate in the parade are due by September 5 and are available at www.suwaneeday.com.

Grand marshal duties will be shared by two accomplished young women, 2008 and 2012 Olympian and former University of Georgia swimmer Amanda Weir and Suwanee area resident Leighton Jordan, who is the current Miss Georgia and will compete in the Miss America pageant in January.

In addition to more than 225 arts and crafts, food, and sponsor booths, Suwanee Day 2012 will feature nearly 12 hours of entertainment on two stages. The entertainment line-up is all over the map, with performers representing Mexico, India, and Great Britain. A full entertainment schedule is available at www.suwaneeday.com.

The Smithereens, known for writing and playing catchy 1960s-influenced power pop, will be the headline performer, taking the Town Center stage at 8:15 p.m. The band's biggest hits arrived in the late 1980s into the early '90s and include "Blood and Roses," "Only a Memory," "A Girl Like You," "Blues Before and After," "Top of the Pops," and "House We Used to Live In."

The concert and admission to Suwanee Day is free. The festival will conclude about 10 p.m. following a fireworks display.

Other changes at this year's festival include:

  • A new space just for guys. Man Land, which will include sofas, TVs, and access to food and beverages (of course!) will offer dads – and all football fans – an opportunity to enjoy the festival without missing their favorite game.
  • All of Town Center Avenue – not just one side – will be closed to traffic. Parking around Town Center will be essentially unavailable. Attendees should definitely consider off-site parking areas, including those at which free shuttle transportation is provided. More information about parking is available at www.suwaneeday.com.
  • The food court has been expanded and will feature a variety of international flavors, from Cuban to Chinese, Greek to Jamaican, and Polish to Italian. Additional food booths have been added, and the food court area will encompass both sides of Town Center Avenue.
  • The festival transportation drop-off and pick-up location has been moved to the back parking area at Town Center behind the two buildings closest to Buford Highway. The buses will stop in the back parking lot rather than in front of City Hall. Participants who ride the shuttle buses will walk between Five Guys and Ippolito's to enter the festival.
  • Beer may be purchased at the festival beginning at noon from on-site vendors or licensed Town Center businesses.
  • Immediately following the parade, along Buford Highway, there will be a special large-group performance that's not to be missed!

August 23, 2012


Suwanee Screening Schedule
For Southern Tour of Independent Filmmakers
Age of Champions – September 17
A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt – October 15
Drivers Wanted (along with the short I Beat Mike Tyson) – November 5
Trust: Second Acts in Young Lives – February 18
The Misadventures of the Dunderheads – March 18
Heart of Stone – April 15

The City of Suwanee is partnering with South Arts' Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers and Movie Tavern to bring a series of six independent films to the community from September-April. The first film to be shown is an award-winning documentary about an ageless and timely topic – the Olympics, the National Senior Olympics, that is. Christopher Rufo's Age of Champions will premiere in Suwanee on September 17.

"We're thrilled to be part of this tour of independent films," says Toni Shrewsbury, special projects coordinator in the City's economic and community development department. "The screenings will provide a variety of cultural samplers to our residents. Plus, participants will have an opportunity to meet and interact with the filmmakers."

Suwanee is one of more than 18 communities in eight states participating in the film tour. Each film will be shown once at Movie Tavern, located in the Suwanee Gateway at 2855 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road. Screenings begin at 7 p.m. on the scheduled date and are followed by a discussion and reception with filmmakers.

Package and individual tickets will be available at Movie Tavern as well as on the theater's website, www.movietavern.com. Six-film package tickets are $30 and include a complimentary glass of wine at each viewing; individual tickets (for independent film circuit movies only) are $6 each. For more information, contact Movie Tavern at 678-730-6900.

Age of Champions, by Christopher Rufo and Keith Ochwat, follows five competitors who sprint, leap, and swim for gold at the National Senior Olympics. Movie-goers will meet a 100-year-old tennis champion, an 86-year-old pole vaulter, and a group of rough-and-tumble basketball grandmothers as they triumph over the limitations of age. When one athlete loses a spouse and another is diagnosed with cancer, these athletes dig even deeper to make their Olympic dreams come true. It is a story about the resilience of the human spirit and a must-see for the whole family.

The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is a program of South Arts. Southern Circuit screenings are funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

South Arts, a nonprofit regional arts organization, was founded in 1975 to build on the South's unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. For more information, visit www.southarts.org.

August 23, 2012


With City Hall as the starting point, the 2012 Suwanee SculpTour guided audio tour/podcast provides walking directions to and information about each of the 15 sculptures included in the exhibit as well as insights from the 11 participating artists. Suwanee SculpTour is an annual walkable exhibit of public artworks placed in and around Town Center; the current display will be up until March 2013.

The podcast may be downloaded from iTunes; simply search "Suwanee SculpTour" at the iTunes store. The audio tour also may be accessed via the SculpTour page at www.suwanee.com.

As they did last year, Annette Phelps, the City's receptionist, and Councilmember Dick Goodman lead the tour, offering clear walking directions, information about each piece, and gentle humor. Before beginning the guided tour, it would be helpful to pick up a Suwanee SculpTour brochure/map from City Hall or participating Town Center businesses.  Maps also may be downloaded from the SculpTour page at www.suwanee.com.

Each year, SculpTour is organized by Suwanee's Public Arts Commission and funded solely through corporate and private donations. This year's sponsors include People's Bank & Trust; Suwanee Magazine; Chandler, Britt, Jay, Beck & Zwald; Mellow Mushroom; and the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau, who sponsored the podcast.

August 16, 2012


One of 2012's biggest movies is coming to the big screen at Town Center Park when the City of Suwanee shows The Hunger Games on Saturday, August 25. This free screening, which will begin at dusk, is part of Movie Under the Stars, presented by Hiser Orthodontics.

Based on the uber popular, futuristic young adult series by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games depicts a fight-to-the-death competition among 24 boys and girls, two from each of the 12 formerly rebellious districts of Panem. This movie is rated PG-13.

"We're excited to offer an event that should particularly appeal to our teenagers," says Events Manager Amy Doherty. "Even though the City hosts about 40 events each year, our teens and tweens have expressed a desire for more events that appeal to them."

The Oscar Guy Wesley Lovell has this to say about The Hunger Games on the Rotten Tomatoes website: "A blockbuster that has something to say about the world we could be living in. Unlike Twilight, this film actually has a deeper and more important philosophical meaning."

Bring chairs and blankets as well as snacks for the movie, but no alcohol may be brought into Town Center Park. Food and beverages will be available for purchase from vendors and Town Center merchants.

August 10, 2012


For the fifth consecutive year, the City of Suwanee has been recognized by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) for superior performance management. Suwanee was one of 15 jurisdictions throughout the country to receive a Certificate of Distinction from ICMA's Center for Performance Measurement.

"Jurisdictions meeting the qualifications have demonstrated leadership in continuous improvement and community engagement, and they serve as examples for other governments to follow," says Wayne Sommer, acting director of the Center for Performance Measurement.

In order to earn a Certificate of Distinction, jurisdictions must:

  • report performance data to the public through budgets, newsletters, etc.
  • undertake data verification efforts to ensure reliability
  • provide staff training
  • use performance data in strategic planning and operational decision-making
  • share performance measurement knowledge with other local governments.

According to ICMA, the certificate program assesses a local government's performance management program and encourages analysis of results by comparing to peers and gauging performance over time. Performance management aids in cost reduction, program prioritization, and quality improvement while encouraging accountability and transparency.

August 8, 2012


Registration is now available for the annual Suwanee Day 5K and 10K Classic, to be run Saturday, September 8. Participants also may choose to take part in a non-competitive 25-mile bike ride or 1K kids' fun run. Hosted by BodyPlex, all Suwanee Day Classic activities will begin and end at Town Center Park.

Registration is available at www.suwaneeday.com or www.active.com. To ensure a t-shirt in the desired size, participants are encouraged to register by September 1. The entry fee and start time for each event is listed below; please note that an additional $10 per event will be charged for entries received after September 1.

Bike Ride 7 am $25
5K 8 am $25
10K 9 am $30
1K Fun Run 9:05 am $25

The fee for the 5K/10K or bike ride/10K combo is $40.

The 5K race route takes participants through historic Old Town, while the 10K route is along the Suwanee Creek Greenway.

Pre-registered runners/riders may pick up race packets the morning of the event or at the Runners Expo from 4:30-8 p.m. Friday, September, 7 at Suwanee City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. Late registrations will be accepted at the Runners Expo and on race day beginning at 6:30 a.m.

Participants are encouraged to wear pink on race day in honor of those who have been touched by breast cancer. This year's events will benefit The 2nd Basemen organization.

July 24, 2012


Alternative rock band Vertical Horizon will be the featured performer in Suwanee's free annual summer concert Saturday, August 11. The band, which will take the Town Center stage at about 8 p.m., is best known for its hits, "Everything You Want," "You're a God," and "Best I Ever Had (Grey Sky Morning)."

Formed in 1991 by Georgetown University undergrads Matthew Scannell and Keith Kane, Vertical Horizon experienced meteoric success with its 1999 Everything You Want album, which eventually went double platinum, selling more than 2 million copies. The band's most recent album is 2009's Burning the Days.

Music will begin at 6 p.m. with performances by other bands hosted by Wild Wing and Moondance Restaurant and Lounge.

Bring chairs, blankets, picnics, and friends to this free concert. No alcohol may be brought into Town Center Park, but beer and wine may be purchased on site and from licensed Town Center merchants. Food may be purchased from on-site vendors and Town Center businesses as well.

Limited parking is available at Town Center and along Main Street. Off-site parking and a free shuttle service will be available beginning at 7 p.m. from Shawnee North Business Center, 305 Shawnee North Drive (at Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road).

July 20, 2012

Dive 'under the sea' at July 'Toast'

Suwanee's July 26 Toast @ Town Center event is going under the sea with Suwanee Performing Arts' production of Little Mermaid, Jr. The Disney musical will be the featured Broadway in the Park performance Friday and Saturday, July 27 and 28, but Toast @ Town Center attendees can get a sneak peek as the dress rehearsal will take place on the Town Center stage Thursday night.

Toast @ Town Center, Suwanee's monthly street festival event held the fourth Thursday of the month through October, features merchant specials, entertainment, and themed fun. Participants are encouraged to come eat, shop, and enjoy a beverage, including wine and beer, purchased from one of Town Center's licensed businesses. During Toast @ Town Center, visitors can stroll throughout Town Center with their beverages.

July 19, 2012


The deadline for the City of Suwanee's video competition has been extended to August 3.

The City is hosting a competition to solicit fun, slightly off-the-wall videos about the joys of living in Suwanee. Winning videos will be uploaded to the City of Suwanee's YouTube channel and made available via www.suwanee.com.

More than one video may be selected as a winner. Up to $2,500 may be awarded through the competition with up to $1,000 offered for individual videos. The City of Suwanee reserves the right not to select any winning videos.

Original videos, designed to promote the City of Suwanee to potential residents and businesses, should be no longer than three minutes. Suggested themes include "Suwanee on the Edge" or "My Wacky, Wonderful Hometown." Participants must comply with copyright regulations, including any use of music. The preferred format for submissions is WMV or MOV, provided via DVD.

Applications are available at www.suwanee.com and must be submitted with video entries by 5 p.m. Friday, August 3.

July 18, 2012


Ariel, Prince Eric, Sebastian, and evil Ursula swim into Town Center Park for Suwanee Performing Arts' 2012 Broadway in the Park production. Little Mermaid Jr., Suwanee Performing Arts' annual summer performance and fundraiser, will be staged Friday and Saturday, July 27 and 28. An original one-act play, Filligan's Island, a take on the popular 1960s television series Gilligan's Island, will open the event each evening at       7 p.m.

Broadway in the Park is free and open to the public, but, as the performances serve as the annual fundraiser for Suwanee Performing Arts (SPA), donations are encouraged.

"Mermaid is colorful, fun, and so many people are familiar with the show that attendees will be able to sing along, making the experience even more memorable," says Patty Etherton, SPA founder and creative director.

An Island Market, featuring vendors and activities similar to a cruise ship port, will be open from 4-7 p.m. at Town Center Park before each show.

Suwanee Performing Arts is a nonprofit community arts organization founded on the belief that performing art ignites a passion for excellence within a community.  Find more information at www.suwaneeperformingarts.com.

Parking will be available at Town Center Park and along Main Street. Bring blankets and chairs for seating, but please be aware that no alcohol may be brought into the park.

June 19, 2012

Suwanee moves City Council meetings to 6:30 p.m.

The City of Suwanee has changed its monthly City Council meeting time from 7 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The public hearing will be the first item on the agenda, and once that concludes the rest of the meeting will immediately follow.

Suwanee City Council will typically meet at 6:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month. The next Council meeting is Tuesday, June 26.

June 18, 2012


The City of Suwanee will hold a special election July 31 to fill an unexpired City Council term. Jace Brooks has resigned his City Council post after nearly 10 years of service in order to run for the District 1 seat on the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners.

Council candidates must be registered voters and have lived within the City limits for 180 days. Candidates may qualify at City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. June 25 and 26 and 8:30 a.m.-noon June 27. The qualifying fee is $270.

Voting for the City Council post will take place at City Hall; those casting ballots must be registered voters living within the City of Suwanee limits. Ballots for the Transportation Investment Act and other items must be cast at voters' Gwinnett County polling locations.

Poll workers are needed for Suwanee's special election. For more information or to apply, contact Elvira Rogers at erogers@suwanee.com or 770-945-8996.

June 18, 2012


The theme for the June 28 Toast @ Town Center is "Flower Power." Area residents are invited to dress to get their groove on and enjoy a free performance by The Upside, a local band hosted by Hairllucinations.

Toast @ Town Center, Suwanee's monthly street festival event held from 6-10 p.m. the fourth Thursday of the month through October, features merchant specials, entertainment, and themed fun. Participants are encouraged to come eat, shop, and enjoy a beverage, including wine and beer, purchased from one of Town Center's licensed businesses. During Toast @ Town Center, visitors can stroll throughout Town Center with their beverages.

June 5, 2012


Do you see life through the lens of a video camera? Do you have what it takes to produce a fun, slightly off-the-wall video about the joys of living in Suwanee?  If so, perhaps you could win up to $1,000 in the City's first-ever video competition. Winning videos will be uploaded to the City of Suwanee's YouTube channel and made available via www.suwanee.com.

"What we're really hoping," says Public Information Officer Lynne Bohlman DeWilde, "is to receive several fun, creative videos…that are a bit edgy, without being profane or offensive, videos that have the potential to go viral like the Old Spice guy. We figured that we'd turn to our creative community for an insider's take on living in Suwanee."

More than one video may be selected as a winner. Up to $2,500 may be awarded through the competition with up to $1,000 being awarded for individual videos. The City of Suwanee reserves the right not to select any winning videos.  The deadline for submission is July 20.

Original videos should be no longer than three minutes. While the video's goal should be to promote the City of Suwanee to potential residents and businesses, it can be funny (oh, please!) but not foul. Suggested themes include "Suwanee on the Edge" or "My Wacky, Wonderful Hometown." Remember, you'll need to comply with copyright regulations, including any use of music. The preferred format for submissions is WMV or MOV, provided via DVD.

Applications are available at www.suwanee.com and must be submitted with video entries.

June 1, 2012


B at the Movies when B98.5 presents Real Steel at Town Center Park Saturday, June 9. Festivities will begin around 7 p.m. with the movie starting at dusk.

Released last year and rated PG-13, Real Steel takes viewers to the not-so-distant future where boxing has become high-tech as 8-foot steel robots, weighing in at a cut 2,000 pounds, take over the ring. The movie stars Hugh Jackman as Charlie Kenton, a washed-up fighter turned small-time promoter.

Real Steel is rated PG-13. According to the IMDb parents' guide, there is mild language and some violence, which according to the website, consists mostly of robot fights and "is not overly graphic but can get intense in some scenes."

Tom Long with the Detroit News says: "Real Steel is a blast, an unabashed crowd-pleaser that mixes Rocky, Transformers, video games, and father-son bonding to great, if corny, effect."

Bring blankets, lawn chairs, friends, and snacks, but no alcohol please. Parking is available in and around Town Center and along Main Street.

May 31, 2012


Suwanee-area residents are invited to spend a night under the stars at Sims Lake Park – and enjoy some unplugged family fun time, too – during the 2012 Great American Campout event June 30. Pre-registration is required; registration forms are available at www.suwanee.com. A non-refundable $25 fee is will be charged for each 10 x 20 campsite, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The event begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 30, and camp breaks at 8 a.m. Sunday, July 1.

Activities, including family games emceed by Boosterthon representatives, begin around 7 p.m. A light snack of s'mores and trail mix will be provided.

Campers are responsible for bringing tents, sleeping bags, drinks (non-alcoholic only), food, lanterns, flashlights, and bug spray. The City of Suwanee will provide port-a-potties in each camping field and lighting until 10:30 p.m. All campers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Please do NOT bring generators, pop-up campers, RVs, individual campfires, alcohol, or grills.

May 18, 2012


It wouldn't be Memorial Day weekend in Suwanee if it didn't start with a performance of military marches and patriotic tunes. In what has become a firmly rooted community tradition, the Gwinnett Daily Post will kick off the Memorial Day weekend at Town Center Park with a free concert that honors those who serve and have served in the United States military.

The Gwinnett Community Band will perform Friday, May 25. The concert will begin immediately following a 7 p.m. demonstration jump, weather permitting, by Silver Wings, the Command Exhibition Parachute Team of the U.S. Army Infantry based at Fort Benning.

The Gwinnett Community Band, led by Music Director Jack Randall, is a nonprofit group of adult musicians from throughout the Atlanta area, who perform for public enrichment. The band provides ongoing performance opportunities for enthusiastic amateur musicians.

"This is definitely the most patriotic event we do," says Events Manager Amy Doherty. "It recognizes the 68-year-old veteran as well as the 18-year-old who just enlisted. It makes you realize just how many decades of people have served our country."

The event is sponsored by the Gwinnett Daily Post. Bring chairs, blankets, friends and neighbors, but no alcohol please. Also, please bring canned goods for the Gwinnett Municipal Association's Can Do project; the food will be donated to the North Gwinnett Food Co-op. Parking is available at Town Center as well as along Main Street.

May 16, 2012


For nearly a year, the City of Suwanee has worked with area residents through a strategic planning process to craft a vision for the kind of community Suwanee should be in the next decade. Citizens now have one final chance to offer feedback on the draft plan before City Council considers adopting the 20/20 Vision at its June 26 meeting.

Drafts of the strategic plan executive summary and full plan are available at www.suwanee.com. Citizens may offer feedback by sending an email to jroth@suwanee.com by May 31.

The City has worked with the Philadelphia-based planning firm Interface Studios to create the community-infused strategic plan. The process has engaged more area residents more intensely than any of the City's previous planning efforts, notes Assistant to the City Manager Jessica Roth.

Some 435 people participated in 10 different activities at the strategic plan open house last July; six community focus groups discussed issues related to their particular demographic; 100 conversations were held by 25 roundtable groups through the fall and winter; and about 175 people attended the community picnic and unveiling of the strategic plan draft in April.

The strategic plan outlines seven principles with goals and recommended strategies in each area: communications and engagement, economic development, public safety, planning, community culture, parks and open space, and transportation. "If there's one thing that the community universally agrees on," says Roth, "it's that we need to do more in the Gateway area. No one is satisfied with the way it is now."

May 10, 2012

Celebrate! Arts in the Park

Arts in the Park Entertainment Schedule
Arts in the Park officially begins at 11 a.m.,
but entertainment will begin an hour earlier.
Merritt Ambrose
Atlanta Magician of the Year for 2011
Performing throughout the festival
Atlanta Harmony Celebration!
Women's a capella barbershop-style group
10 am
Imperial OPA Circus
Performers include jugglers, unicyclists, fire eater, tumbler, stilt walker, ballet dancer
10:30 am
Sonny Cheatham
10:45 am
Zephyr Music
Fifteen-piece orchestra
11 am
Imperial OPA Circus
More circus performers…
12:15 pm
Peach State Opera
Performing "operatizers"
1-2 pm
Zumba Flashmob 2:15 pm
Imperial OPA Circus
Performers include jugglers, unicyclists, fire eater, tumbler, stilt walker, ballet dancer
2:20 pm
Imperial OPA Circus
Aerial rig performers
3:15 pm

Art in a variety of forms will be celebrated, demonstrated, exhibited, performed, and savored at the Arts in the Park festival at Suwanee's Town Center Park Saturday, May 19. The annual arts festival will feature more than 50 fine artists, an upscale circus-themed entertainment line-up, and the official unveiling of the City of Suwanee's 2012 SculpTour exhibit. Admission to the festival, held from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., is free.

Hosted by the North Gwinnett Arts Association (NGAA), Arts in the Park aims to be a "serious" arts festival. "We don't want to replicate Suwanee Day and we don't want to be a craft festival," says NGAA President Vickie Johnson. "We want to be a serious arts festival like the ones at Piedmont Park, something that is really all about the arts."

In this case, "serious about the arts" doesn't translate into stodgy, boring, or static. Many of the exhibiting artists will be demonstrating and creating their art on site, and the eclectic entertainment line-up includes a roving magician, women's a capella barbershop-style group, contemporary circus performers, and performances of "operatizers." See full entertainment schedule below.

In addition, attendees will have a chance to participate in artistic endeavors – having their photo taken as the face of Edvard Munch's Scream (which recently sold for $120 million in auction) and trying their hand at the Pollock Painting Canvas, a group art project.

Johnson adds: "There's a lot of focus with this event on education. So this is a great opportunity to bring your children and let them learn about the arts."

Suwanee SculpTour is a walkable exhibit of 15 outdoor sculptures. The 2012 exhibit currently is being installed in and around Town Center Park. The exhibit includes sculptures made from a variety of materials and features artists from Georgia and five other states.

Town Center Park is located at Buford Highway and Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road. Limited parking is available at Town Center and along Main Street; look for the yellow and black "Event Parking" signs.

May 3, 2012


Biggest Dog Contest 12:30 pm
Air Dogs Show 1 pm
Frisbee Dog Show 2 pm
Frisbee Dog Workshop 2:20 pm
Smallest Dog Contest 2:30 pm
Air Dogs Show 3 pm
Band: The Electric Sons 3:30 pm
Pet Owner Look-A-Like Contest 4 pm
Band: Glow 4:30 pm
Air Dogs Show 5 pm
Air Dogs Exhibition 6 pm
Band: Mirror 6:30 pm

STAR 94's annual pet party in the park, Woofstock, is bringing tail-wagging fun in the form of dog demonstrations and contests, pet adoptions and vendors, live music, food vendors and a beer garden, and even a pet spa to Suwanee's Town Center Park on Saturday, May 12. The pet party is planned for 12-7 p.m. and admission is free.

Ultimate Air Dogs will bring its dock jumping show to Town Center. Participating dogs will jump from a dock into a pool of water. Dogs interested in participating – or their owners – may sign up onsite or online by clicking the "Events" link at www.ultimateairdogs.com. WOOF! Sports USA will present a Frisbee dog exhibition and workshop. Other dog contests include smallest, biggest, and pet/owner look-a-like. See schedule of shows and exhibitions below.

Live music also will be part of Woofstock with The Electric Sons, Glow, and Mirror performing on the Town Center stage.

In addition to the pet rescue groups, vendors, and adoptions available, inflatables will be set up for children.

Woofstock is open to pets of all kinds; dogs must be on a leash and owners are required to clean up after their pets.

Limited event parking is available at Town Center Park, located at the intersection of Buford Highway and Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, and along Main Street. Look for the yellow "event parking" signs.

May 1, 2012


Suwanee Day + your creativity could = $500 cash! The deadline for submitting entries to the 2012 Suwanee Day design competition is May 31.

The winning design will serve as the official logo for the 2012 "celebration of community" and will be imprinted on festival t-shirts and promotional materials; the winning artist will receive $500 cash.

Digitally created designs as well as original artwork – including paintings, drawings, and photographs – will be accepted. Completed applications must accompany submissions, which should be printed and mounted on foam board. Digital copies of the submissions, in jpeg or pdf formats, also are requested.

Designs may incorporate any, all, or none of the following:

  • Suwanee Day 2012
  • September 15, 2012
  • Town Center Park
  • A Celebration of Community

Guidelines and applications are available at www.suwaneeday.com.

Last year, approximately 55,000 attended the Suwanee Day festival at Town Center Park. This year's celebration will be September 15.

April 30, 2012


Do you love the Suwanee Creek Greenway and City of Suwanee parks? Would you like to help maintain their safety and beauty?

The City of Suwanee works with a group of volunteers who serve as Park Ambassadors. These ambassadors provide an additional "official" presence along the Suwanee Creek Greenway and offer information – and assistance, if needed – to trail and park users. Park ambassadors also provide feedback regarding safety and maintenance issues to the City's police and public works departments.

An orientation and training session for those interested in serving as park ambassadors will be held from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at the Suwanee Police Department, 373 Buford Highway.

For an application and more information, contact Ofc. Elias Casanas at elias@suwanee.com or 770-904-4607.

"Park ambassadors help serve as our eyes and ears on the Greenway and in City parks," says Casanas. "These volunteers are folks who regularly use the park and trail system; through the ambassador program, they simply take us along with them."

April 26, 2012


On Saturday, May 5, the Atlanta Braves will be playing in Colorado, but you can get "up front" seats at Game on the Green in Suwanee. Come watch Jason Heyward, Brian McCann, and the rest of the hometown Atlanta Braves take on the Rockies on the really big screen at Town Center Park.

The game starts at 8 p.m. (Eastern time), but festivities begin at Town Center at 6 with the Braves' fan experience, which includes inflatables and other games; a performance by the "Heavy Hitters," the Braves drum line; and an appearance by Braves mascot Homer. It's all free.

This outdoor viewing party is presented by SportSouth, 680 The Fan, Fox Sports South, ROCK 100.5, Q100, the Atlanta Braves, and Gwinnett Braves. Bring your lawn chairs, blankets, and tomahawks to cheer on the Braves, but no alcohol may be brought to Town Center Park. Food and beverage vendors will be available, and beer and wine may be purchased onsite and from licensed Town Center businesses.

Limited parking is available at Town Center and along Main Street.

April 23, 2012


It's a bud? It's a mug? It's Art on a Limb!

As has become tradition in Suwanee, art will be blossoming along the Suwanee Creek Greenway and other trails around the City of Suwanee during the month of May. Through its Art on a Limb program, the City of Suwanee "hides" two pieces of original artwork daily along trails throughout the City; those who find an art piece get to keep it. This annual "finders keepers" program is designed to promote an appreciation for art and nature.

This year's Art on a Limb pieces are mugs created by Dacula-based artist Sandra Nissen. Like many of the tiles she created for the 2007 Art on a Limb program, this year's mugs, which are in an assortment of glaze colors, include impressions of leaves picked up on Nissen's walks along the Suwanee Creek Greenway.

The child of an Air Force colonel, Nissen grew up in many states and two countries. She received a bachelor's degree in industrial design (with a minor in ceramics) from the Philadelphia College of Art. Nissen has managed several galleries and, since moving to Georgia 13 years ago, has worked and taught in clay. She teaches hand-building, mosaics, use of the potter's wheel, and silver metal clay at the Spruill Center for the Arts in Dunwoody.

Be on the lookout for Nissen's mugs to blossom along the Suwanee Creek Greenway (but not the section from Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road to Suwanee Elementary, which is closed for rehabilitation) as well as the trails at Sims Lake Park and White Street Park. Nissen also will be featured at this year's Arts in the Park festival on May 19.

April 20, 2012


For those longing for fresh produce, better-than-homemade baked goods, and natural products, sustenance is just a flip of the calendar page away. The Suwanee Farmers Market will open at Town Center Park two times each week beginning May 1.

The popular market is open from 4-7 pm Tuesdays (through August 7) and 8 am-noon Saturdays (through October 6 and with the exception of Suwanee Day, September 15).

About 20-25 vendors will be at each market offering fresh, in-season produce, salsa, jellies, sauces, bread, eggs, meat, baked goods, and other natural products.

"It's so nice to shake hands with the folks who grow your food," says Events Manager Amy Doherty. "Other than the highly prized tomatoes that don't come in until late June, some of the most popular items at the Suwanee Farmers Market include local honey, seasonal vegetables, farm fresh eggs, strawberries, and Georgia peaches."

Vendor spaces are no longer available for this season.

April 19, 2012


Suwanee's monthly street festival at Town Center returns for 2012 on April 26. This year, Toast @ Town Center will roll around from 6-10 p.m. every fourth Thursday of the month through October with merchant specials, entertainment, and themed fun.

In a change from previous years, Town Center Avenue will not be closed to vehicular traffic. Participants are encouraged to come eat, shop, and enjoy a beverage, including wine and beer, purchased from one of Town Center's licensed businesses. During Toast @ Town Center, visitors can stroll throughout Town Center with their beverages.

The theme for the April 26 Toast @ Town Center is Paint the Town Purple. "We're encouraging merchants and participants to dress to each month's theme," says Downtown and Business Manager Alison Starnes. "So dig out something purple from your closet and wear it to Town Center on April 26. Purple, of course, is the signature color for American Cancer Society's Relay for Life."

Proceeds raised through certain events that evening will benefit local schools' American Cancer Society Relay for Life teams. Hairllucinations will offer purple hair streaks for $10, and North Gwinnett High School students will provide face-painting.

April 18, 2012


Area residents are invited to the Harvest Farm Community Garden at White Street Park this Saturday morning, April 21, for a free class and an opportunity to purchase starter plants.

Harvest Farm Education Chairperson Julie Chahboune will present a free "Tomatoes 101" class at 9 a.m. at the garden's demonstration plot. The class will focus on growing, fertilizing, and harvesting beautiful tomatoes.

In addition, as a fundraiser for the garden, starter plants, grown by Harvest Farm master gardeners, will be available for purchase. Plant selections include herbs, heirloom tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and squash.

Woody's Nursery also will be on hand, selling organic vegetable and herb starters. Woody's will offer a 10 percent discount on companion and pollinator plants.

"You don't have to be a Harvest Farm gardener to come out and get helpful gardening tips and some great plants," says Harvest Farm Communications Chairperson Cris Koenigs. "So come out and be inspired to start your own garden or vegetable container on your patio."

The event is from 8:30-10:30 a.m. During this time, many Harvest Farm gardeners will be planting spring gardens in their plots. Harvest Farm at White Street Park is located at 752 White Street; additional parking is available at the church across the street.

April 17, 2012


The City of Suwanee will unveil its vision for tomorrow at an event that's a throwback to tradition. The City is hosting an old-fashioned Southern potluck picnic on Sunday, April 29, at which the draft of its community-driven 20/20 Vision strategic plan will be released. 

The communitywide picnic/celebration will begin at 12:30 p.m. at the Suwanee Music Barn, located on Blue Grass Trail, off Stonecypher Road in historic Old Town.

The City is working with local BBQ restaurants to provide the main course for the picnic as well as chips and drinks. Attendees are asked to bring along a hot or cold side dish or dessert to share. RSVP for the picnic by April 23 by emailing Billie Marshall at marshall@suwanee.com.

During the picnic, a mini open house is planned to capture feedback. In addition, entertainment will be provided by one of the Suwanee Music Barn's house bluegrass bands. The event is scheduled for 12:30-4 p.m. with the picnic to begin at about 1 p.m. and the band to perform at about 3:30.

The City of Suwanee and community members have collaborated over the past 10 months to craft a vision for the kind of community Suwanee should be in the next decade. Some 435 people participated in 10 different activities at the strategic plan open house last July; six community focus groups were formed; and through the fall and winter 100 conversations were held by 25 roundtable groups.

"This plan," says City Manager Marty Allen, "is going to offer ideas for how to achieve our community values. We're going to want to hit the ground running…and we know that it's going to take significant effort and a lot of work. Achieving our goals is going to require that we make conscious decisions to spend our limited resources 'here' and not 'there.'

Allen adds: "One of the things that we've heard through the process is 'Whatever you do, be audacious.'"

April 11, 2012


What stands 4-foot to 10-foot tall, weighs more than 4,600 pounds cumulatively, and is made mostly of steel, but also aluminum, wood, and bronze? It's the 15 public art pieces that comprise the 2012 Suwanee SculpTour.

Presented this year by QuikTrip, SculpTour is Suwanee's walkable outdoor exhibit of original sculptures. Displayed nearly year-round in and around downtown Suwanee, SculpTour is designed to be a public art encounter that serves as a quality of life enhancer, economic development tool, and community identifier.

Administered by Suwanee's Public Arts Commission, the inaugural Suwanee SculpTour exhibit was installed last year and taken down earlier this month. The 2012 exhibit, which features 15 sculptures created by 11 artists, representing Georgia and five other states, will be installed in time for the May 19 Arts in the Park festival.

"We learned a lot from our first year," says Suwanee Public Arts Commission Chair Linnea Miller, "and we are poised for even greater success and impact in this coming year. SculpTour 2012 will surprise and delight visitors with 15 diverse sculptures that represent different styles, materials and genres. We believe that this diversity is representative of our vibrant community and offers an opportunity for Suwanee to continue to give its citizens and visitors a unique, shared experience through exposure to the arts."

2012 SculpTour pieces include:

  • Pilgrim – by Charlie Brouwer of Willis, Virginia
  • Audubon Watcher – Jim Collins of Signal Mountain, Tennessee
  • Intersection – by Robert Coon of Vero Beach, Florida
  • U Circle 58 – by Al Garnto of Blairsville, Georgia
  • Wind Sculpture Weathervane – by Al Garnto of Blairsville, Georgia
  • Winged Glory – by Jack Howard-Potter of New York City
  • Wallwalker – by Jack Howard-Potter of New York City
  • Oracle – by Aaron P. Hussey of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Header – by Gregory Johnson of Cumming (the only repeat artist from 2011)
  • Gyres – by Cynthia Knapp of Atlanta
  • Swept – by Marc Moulton of Statesboro, Georgia
  • Smoke – by Marc Moulton of Statesboro, Georgia
  • Wrapped Around You – by Davis A. Whitfield IV of Mountain City, Tennessee
  • Sun Drop – by Davis A. Whitfield IV of Mountain City, Tennessee
  • Reaching – by Justin Wilson of Riverdale, Georgia

QuikTrip is the presenting sponsor of this year's SculpTour, and the Gwinnett Convention & Visitors Bureau is providing funding support for the audio tour/podcast that will be available via iTunes in July.

In news related to the wrap-up of the 2011 SculpTour, the Suwanee Public Arts Commission has announced the winner of the "People's Choice" Award: Mother & Child by New Jersey artist Eluisa Altman. Among the 15 pieces included in the 2011 SculpTour, Mother & Child received the most online and paper ballot votes and has been purchased for $15,000 by the Public Arts Commission as a permanent piece in Suwanee's public art collection. The minimally detailed sculpture is being recast in bronze and will be displayed, when it's completed in a couple of months, in front of City Hall.

No public funds are used for the lease or purchase of SculpTour pieces.

April 9, 2012


As the City of Suwanee begins to consider its fiscal year 2013 budget, the City invites residents to send comments and suggestions by April 23 to budget@suwanee.com. The budget for fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1, is expected to be adopted at the June 26 City Council meeting.

"We want to implement a mechanism that allows citizens to offer input on the upcoming budget earlier in the planning process," says City Manager Marty Allen. "We want to ensure that citizens' concerns, ideas, and priorities are considered through this process."

Suwanee's fiscal year 2012 budget is approximately $11.8 million with a millage rate of 5.65. FY2012 general operating budget funds were allocated as follows (see attached pie chart):

  • police – 35%
  • parks & public works – 15%
  • bond payments – 14%
  • council & chief executive and financial services – 6% each
  • administrative services, economic development, planning, and non-departmental (e.g., legal, technology, and buildings) – 5% each
  • capital contributions – 4%

More information about Suwanee's 2012 budget can be found at www.suwanee.com. Click on the Docs and Downloads link at the top of the page and then click on the Financial Documents link. From this page, residents can access the Fiscal Year 2012 Citizens Operating Budget, a 24-page document that offers an overview of revenues and expenditures, as well as the 400+-page Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Document, which provides much more detailed information.

April 2, 2012


Atlanta's Greatest Hits radio station 106.7 is celebrating its fourth birthday in Town Center Park on Saturday, April 14, and you're invited to the party! Festivities, which begin at noon, will include a free listener appreciation concert performance by the self-proclaimed, "#1 Yacht Rock Band in the Universe."

Yacht Rock Revue, named "Best Cover Band" in Creative Loafing's 2010 Best of Atlanta competition, will pay tribute to the smooth hits of the 1970s and '80s with its 5:30 p.m. performance. The band plays the music of Boz Scaggs, Jackson Browne, Kenny Loggins, the Bee Gees, Rupert Holmes, the Doobie Brothers, and Hall and Oates, among many others.

Bill Barnes, Suwanee's assistant to the public works director, is a big Yacht Rock fan. "If you came of age anywhere from the mid-70s to the mid-80s, this is your music," he says. "I love the energy and the attitude of this band. They will make you want to dance, sing along, or just pretend you're young again.  I flash back to proms, the fraternity house, and the night clubs of college and my 20s, but I'm also always amazed at the now 20-somethings that I see at the band's shows. They love the band, too, and seem to know all the songs. Just plain fun!"

Can't get enough Yacht Rock music? The special opening guest performer will be Yacht Rock Schooner, a "fast, light, backwards version of…Yacht Rock Revue." YR Schooner will take the Town Center stage at 3:30 p.m.

The fun begins even earlier, at noon, with Atlanta's Greatest Hits music, festival food, vendor booths, giveaways, and an area especially for children with inflatable bouncy houses, games, prizes, and more. Admission is free.

Bring lawn chairs, blankets, picnics, and a few of your friends, but, as always, no alcohol may be brought to Town Center Park. Beer and wine will be available for purchase on site as well as from licensed Town Center restaurants.

Limited parking is available at Town Center and along Main Street. Beginning at 3:30 p.m., free shuttle service will be provided between Town Center and off-site parking at Shawnee North Business Complex, 300 Shawnee North Drive.

March 22, 2012


The North Gwinnett Arts Association (NGAA) is looking for artists who will help it create "a serious art festival" in Suwanee. Last year, 54 artists and more than 2,000 people attended Arts in the Park, and this year, the NGAA is planning on more of both at the May 19 festival.

Because the festival also embraces arts education, exhibitors are encouraged to demonstrate their artwork on site. All accepted artists will be eligible to share in $1,250 in prize money, and awards will be presented by category.

The application deadline for this juried festival is April 15. Apply online at www.SuwaneeArtsinthePark.com.

A celebration of art in all its wonderful forms, Arts in the Park will take place from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, May 19, at Town Center Park.

"We don't want to replicate Suwanee Day and we don't want to be a craft festival," says NGAA president Vickie Johnson. "We want to be a serious arts festival like the one at Piedmont Park, something that is really all about the arts."

March 9, 2012


The Suwanee Police Department is offering a two-hour program for new teen drivers and their parents that is designed to give young drivers fresh attitudes and more confidence behind the wheel.

The Suwanee Police Department's Georgia Teens Ride with PRIDE (Parents Reducing Injuries and Driver Error) program will be offered, in cooperation with the Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at the Suwanee Police Department, 373 Buford Highway.

This free course makes parents/guardians more aware of their own driving behaviors, assists parents in helping their teens to become safe drivers, and offers strategies for required supervised practice driving time. PRIDE is not a hands-on, "how-to" program.

Class space is limited and advanced registration is required. A parent is required to accompany participating teens. To download an application, visit www.suwanee.com or contact Ofc. Elias Casanas at elias@suwanee.com or 770-904-7612. The registration deadline is March 23.

March 7, 2012


Think the Amazing Race meets small-town America and you've got a pretty good idea of what Suwanee's Super Incredible Race is all about. A fast-paced scavenger hunt that requires contestants to wear their thinking caps, Suwanee's Super Incredible Race, to be held Saturday, April 21, is designed to encourage teamwork, test how well residents know Suwanee, and promote some good old-fashioned fun.

In teams of two or in family teams, participants race through a variety of high-energy mental and physical challenges. For example, teams might have to fly a paper airplane that they construct, find and eat a particular food, participate in relay-style games, and solve mind-benders. All activities will take place in downtown Suwanee, including Town Center, historic Main Street, and along the Suwanee Creek Greenway. No motorized vehicles will be permitted, but feet, bikes, strollers, and skates are OK.

Participants will need a camera, smartphone or other means of Internet access (which may include phoning a friend), and one canned good per team member. Creative team names and costumes are encouraged.

T-shirts will be guaranteed to all team members who sign up by March 30; applications are available at www.suwanee.com. Registration is $25 per two-member team; the fee for family teams is $25 for the first two team members plus $10 for each additional teammate.

The race will begin at noon April 21 at Town Center Park with distribution of clues. The race course will close at 5 p.m., with awards/prizes to be presented afterward at Town Center Park.

March 5, 2012


The twice-weekly City of Suwanee Farmers Market will open at Town Center Park on Tuesday, May 1. Applications for vendor space are currently available at www.suwanee.com. About 25 booth spaces are available at each market; the cost for booth space depends on how frequently a vendor attends the market.

Applications and any other required licenses must be turned in at the annual meeting at   7 p.m. Monday, March 26, at City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. Applications may not be mailed or dropped off. For more information, contact Events Manager Amy Doherty at adoherty@suwanee.com at 770-945-8996.

The Suwanee Farmers Market is limited to farmers and gardeners who actually grow the food they sell and to makers of salsa, sauces, jelly, bread, baked goods, and other natural products. Arts and craft items are not accepted. This year, the City will require that homemade items be cooked in a commercial kitchen (i.e., shared kitchen) that is inspected by the health department.

Beginning May 1, the Suwanee Farmers Market will be open twice each week, from 4-7 p.m. Tuesdays through August 7 and from 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays through October 6 (with the exception of September 15).

February 27, 2012


Thirteen winning photographs in the 2012 Snap Suwanee photo competition will be on display at Suwanee City Hall through the remainder of the year beginning March 1. The winning photos represent a variety of Suwanee locales, including a variety of parks and the historic district.

"It's always fun to see what places and events draw photographers' focus each year," says Public Information Officer Lynne Bohlman DeWilde. "This year, we received a lot of Snowmageddon photos [from January 2010] as well as several photographs from the 9-11 ceremony and unveiling of the World Trade Center artifact.

In all, the City received 129 entries from 43 photographers in the annual photo competition. The photos will be on exhibit along the lower-level back foyer at City Hall, located at 330 Town Center Avenue. A gallery of winning photos also will be available at www.suwanee.com.

February 24, 2012


The City of Suwanee brought home two Kaleidoscope Awards from the Southeast Festivals and Events Association annual conference held in Kingsport, Tennessee, earlier this week. Suwanee's 9-11 commemorative event and 'Remembrance' unveiling received a gold award in the Best New Event category while a flash mob performance at the 2011 Suwanee Day Festival was recognized with a silver award in the Best Event within an Event category.

Suwanee' 9-11 commemorative event, which was held on September 10 last year, featured the unveiling of a 1,638-pound steel artifact from the World Trade Center. Suwanee was one of 24 communities in Georgia to receive an artifact from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The artifact is currently off exhibit while the City considers a permanent display and location.

The Suwanee Day flash mob, organized by the Royal Dance Academy for the September 17 festival, included about 800 people in a rain-themed, energetic dance performance. To see a video of the flash mob, click on the video link located in the lower right of the www.suwanee.com homepage.

The Southeast Festivals and Events Association represents a group of professionals who believe that events and festivals have the power to invigorate communities and make them better places to live.

February 23, 2012


The City of Suwanee is looking for volunteers who want to play in the dirt and help plant trees. As part of its ongoing efforts as a Tree City USA for 22 consecutive years, the City will plant 10 dogwood trees at White Street Park beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 10. To volunteer, contact City Planner Dan Robinson at drobinson@suwanee.com or 770-904-3381.

Suwanee's public works staff recently installed more than 300 plants at the park, home to Suwanee's Harvest Farm community garden. These plantings are mostly around the park's front entrance, along the creek, and the east fence facing Buford Highway. Staff members also constructed an 8 foot x 8 foot, 40-foot-long arbor.

The March 10 Arbor Day planting will be in the area where a fire pit has been constructed as an Eagle Scout project. The park is located at 752 White Street.

"We selected dogwood trees for this area because they are shade-tolerant and the white flowers will contrast nicely with the existing pink azaleas," says Robinson. "We appreciate our volunteers providing support for the City's efforts to enhance our parks and provide a well-treed, environmentally attractive community for generations to come."

February 2, 2012


Festivals…races…and… concerts – oh my! The City of Suwanee's 2012 events calendar, now available on the What's New/Events page at www.suwanee.com, offers an entertaining harmony of sights and sounds.

Event attendees will see a locally produced Broadway show, artists at work, and cultural displays and performances. They also will hear eeks and screams at October's Terror on the Trail, barks during Star 94's Woofstock event in May, and cheers when the Atlanta Braves present a Game on the Green, also in May.

In all, Suwanee will host approximately 35 City-sponsored and privately presented events in 2012. The first event on the calendar is the Rotary Club of Buford/North Gwinnett's Suwanee Sweetheart Sprint on February 11. The first concert will celebrate Atlanta's Greatest Hits Birthday Bash on April 14.

"We hope to move you, shake you, and get you up on your feet dancing," says Events Manager Amy Doherty. "We try to create a wide variety of event options so that citizens of all ages have a chance to come make a memory. It's like enjoying a little vacation in your own backyard."

Many of Suwanee's most popular events – including the Suwanee Beer Festival, Arts in the Park, Taste of Suwanee, Great American Campout, Korean Festival, and, of course, Suwanee Day – are returning as are several events that have more than one date, including the Farmers Market, Art on a Limb, and Terror on the Trail.

New this year is Suwanee's Super Incredible Race, a team scavenger hunt around town that also will require participants to use their thinking caps. This event will be held April 21. Registration for this event will be available at www.suwanee.com by the middle of the month.

January 30, 2012


Suwanee Day + your creativity could = $500 cash!

The Suwanee Day festival is bringing back its popular logo design competition. This year's winning design will serve as the official logo for the 2012 "celebration of community" and will be imprinted on festival t-shirts and promotional materials; the winning artist will receive $500 cash. Submissions will be accepted through May 31.

Digitally created designs as well as original artwork – including paintings, drawings, and photographs – will be accepted. Completed applications must accompany submissions, which should be printed and mounted on foam board. Digital copies of the submissions, in jpeg or pdf formats, also are requested.

Designs may incorporate any, all, or none of the following:

  • Suwanee Day 2012
  • September 15, 2012
  • Town Center Park
  • A Celebration of Community

Guidelines and applications are available at www.suwaneeday.com.

Last year, approximately 55,000 attended the Suwanee Day festival at Town Center Park. This year's celebration will be September 15.

January 25, 2012


The City of Suwanee has been recognized twice in recent days for its public arts initiative and particularly for its inaugural Suwanee SculpTour exhibit. On Sunday, January 22, Suwanee was one of six Georgia cities recognized as a Trendsetter by the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) and Georgia Trend magazine. On Monday, the City was awarded a Community Impact – Community Arts Program Award from ArtWorks! Gwinnett.

The Trendsetter Award was presented during GMA's annual Mayors' Day Conference in Atlanta. Suwanee was recognized for bringing together public art and the community in public spaces as part of its economic development efforts. According to GMA, judges determined that the City's vision and careful planning undertaken in order to accomplish its goals made Suwanee a Trendsetter.

This is Suwanee's fourth Trendsetter Award. Since 2005, the City has been recognized for creation of Town Center, community input in local government, and its open space and parks initiative.

The City of Suwanee was a co-winner, along with the Gwinnett County Public Library, of the Community Impact – Community Arts Program Award, presented by ArtWorks! Gwinnett.

"The selection committee looked at the community impact of programs between December 1, 2010 and December 1, 2011," says Sally Corbett, executive director of ArtWorks! Gwinnett. "It was clear that Suwanee SculpTour was the most ambitious and bold public art project during that time frame and needed to be recognized. SculpTour was well-organized and extremely well-received by citizens of Suwanee and from throughout Gwinnett. It provides a new tourism destination and gives working artists an opportunity for exposure."

The City of Suwanee is committed to utilizing public art as an economic development tool to attract visitors, residents, and businesses to Suwanee; a means to enhance downtown Suwanee and citizens' quality of life; and a way to create a unique sense of identity for the community. Suwanee SculpTour is a technology-enhanced, walkable, outdoor exhibit of 15 sculptures in and around Town Center. Funded entirely by corporate and individual donations, the inaugural 2011 Suwanee SculpTour will conclude at the end of March.

January 23, 2012


WANTED: Sculptures and other artwork that can stand the heat and weather the cold of an outdoor exhibit from May 2012-March 2013. Creativity is a must, and non-conformists are welcome. SculpTour is an equal opportunity exhibit and does not discriminate based on size, material, or style.

The City of Suwanee has issued a request for proposals from artists and teams of artists interested in having their work exhibited in the 2012 Suwanee SculpTour. An outdoor exhibit of sculptures on loan from the artists, SculpTour is designed to be a walkable, interactive public art encounter. The inaugural 2011 SculpTour, which concludes at the end of March, includes 15 sculptures in and around downtown Suwanee.

Selected artists receive a stipend, and the sculpture voted the "People's Choice" at the end of the exhibit will be purchased and added to Suwanee's permanent public art collection. More information about this creative opportunity is available on the Business Matters/Requests for Proposals page at www.suwanee.com. The deadline for submissions is February 17.

The City of Suwanee is committed to utilizing public art as an economic development tool to attract visitors, residents, and businesses to Suwanee; a means to enhance downtown Suwanee and citizens' quality of life; and a way to create a unique sense of identity for the community.

The 2011 SculpTour includes technology-enhanced features that help make the exhibit more interactive. Visitors and residents may vote for their favorite sculpture via the City's website (www.suwanee.com) or QR codes on each sculpture. In addition, Suwanee created an audio guided tour/podcast that may be downloaded via iTunes.

Suwanee SculpTour is funded entirely by corporate and private sponsors.

January 5, 2012


A guided audio tour/podcast of the Suwanee SculpTour exhibit is now available for download on iTunes. The approximately 32-minute podcast – which provides information about the 15 sculptures in the exhibit and some of the City's permanent public art pieces as well as insights from participating artists – is designed to be listened to while walking through the exhibit. With pauses, the guided tour will take approximately an hour to complete.

City Councilmember and Public Arts Commission Chair Dick Goodman and City of Suwanee Receptionist Annette Phelps serve as tour guides, providing directions and light-hearted commentary. Most of the participating artists offer information about their sculpture and the creative process.

To download the podcast, visit iTunes and search "Suwanee SculpTour." Click on the "Guide to 2011 Suwanee SculpTour" link to download. The audio tour also may be downloaded from the City of Suwanee website by clicking on the "listen" link in the right margin of the What's New/Suwanee SculpTour page.

The 2011 Suwanee SculpTour, which opened last May, will run through the end of March. The exhibit includes 15 sculptures of varying sizes, styles, and materials in and around downtown Suwanee. The exhibit is funded entirely through corporate and private donations; 2011 sponsors include Georgia Natural Gas, the Law Offices of Richard Yoon, Peoples Bank & Trust, Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Ippolito's Italian Restaurant.

Sponsors for the 2012 SculpTour are currently being sought; contact Denise Brinson at 770-945-8996 for more information.

Residents and others may vote for their favorite sculpture; the sculpture that receives the most votes will be purchased by the Suwanee Public Arts Commission and added to the City's permanent collection. There are a variety of ways to vote:

  • Visit www.suwanee.com/whatsnew.sculptour.php and click on the green "People's Choice Vote for Me" button beside the description of your favorite sculpture.
  • Those with smart phones and, if necessary, a free downloaded application, may access the website and vote via QR codes printed on the signs on each sculpture.
  • Paper ballots are available in a box just outside City Hall on Charleston Market Street. The completed ballots should be placed in the adjacent secure silver drop box.

The "Guide to 2011 Suwanee SculpTour" podcast was made possible through a grant from the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau.

January 4, 2012


The City of Suwanee will implement a nearly $3.3 million Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) grant, received through the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), to reconstruct a portion of Buford Highway as a context-sensitive roadway that will safely accommodate multiple modes of transportation and help connect residents and visitors to a variety of activity centers.

Rather than simply widening Buford Highway, as many communities seem interested in doing, Suwanee's plans call for the thoroughfare to remain a two-lane road with the addition of sidewalks, multiuse trails, landscaped medians, additional streetscaping, operational improvements such as turn lanes, and a potential roundabout in order to accommodate additional modes of transportation, calm existing traffic, encourage Town Center-like development, and provide safer pedestrian access.

"We're not rebuilding the entire roadway itself," says Planning Division Director Matthew Dickison. "Rather, we're adding elements that will make Buford Highway context-sensitive to its surrounding areas and help facilitate quality future development. This project is a key element in the City's commitment to connecting different parts of downtown."

The City's initial step will be to conduct a scoping study that will provide more detailed estimates related to the project's feasibility, cost, and timeline. That study will be initiated by next month. Construction is anticipated to begin sometime in 2013 with completion expected about two years later.

This project originated with the 2009 update to Suwanee's Downtown Master Plan. A follow-up 2010 Buford Highway Transportation Study calls for the road to be developed in three sections in a manner that respects the character of each area:

  • Rural (from McGinnis Ferry to Davis Street) – Protect the tree canopy; leave natural; add multiuse paths.
  • Historic (from Davis Street to just south of Town Center) – In addition to travel lanes, add bike lanes, potential parallel parking, landscaping, sidewalk/multiuse paths, potential roundabout, and space for possible sidewalk cafes.
  • Town Center – Landscape medians as pedestrian refuges and for aesthetics; add bike lanes and sidewalks/multiuse paths; make crosswalk improvements.

Feedback received through public comment opportunities when the plan was being created indicated that participants overwhelmingly supported the context-sensitive design rather than widening, Dickison notes. The study found that expanding the highway to a conventional four-lane road would cost approximately $12.5 million and further separate the existing Town Center and historic Old Town areas.

The LCI grant, which Suwanee received in November, is for reconstructing sections of Buford Highway in a context-sensitive manner from Davis Street to Suwanee Dam Road. The estimated cost for improvements in those sections is a little more than $4 million, with Suwanee responsible for a 20 percent match of $824,058, which will come from 2009 SPLOST funds. Project details and costs are subject to change as the scoping study and engineering are undertaken.

In September, the ARC received 48 applications from 43 LCI areas requesting $97 million. The ARC elected to fund 13 projects, including Suwanee's, and awarded $34 million to 13 LCI areas. Suwanee's project, Dicksion says, was acknowledged for providing complete streets (that is, multimodal access) and its innovative design.

Including this project and the Brushy Creek Trail project, for which the City recently received a $450,000 federal Transportation Enhancement grant through the Georgia Department of Transportation, the City of Suwanee has committed more than $5 million to improving connectivity to and within downtown.

January 4, 2012

Calendar Announcement

Suwanee's new mayor, Jimmy Burnette, will present his first State of the City address at 6 p.m. Wednesday, January 11, at City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. This annual presentation is part of the regular Suwanee Business Alliance meeting. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Burnette, a lifelong Suwanee resident who has served on City Council since 1996, will take this opportunity to introduce himself and offer a broad perspective of the community, comparing the Suwanee of his childhood and today. The mayor also will provide information about where Suwanee will be headed in 2012 and beyond.